Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Memphis Life: French Riviera Spa

Part of the "getting healthier not being lazy working on self-improvement" plan is going to the gym regularly.

Full disclosure: I sort of hate the gym.

I have a free membership to the one at school because I'm a student, but it's really crowded, I see my students there a lot, and parking on campus is a pain.

So I rarely go.

Also, I really, really, desperately hate being sweaty.

Not that I sweat, since I'm a lady, of course.



One of my friends, Brian, works at a gym here in Memphis, French Riviera Spa, and he convinced me to at least come look at the gym on Union. It's about two miles from my house, and he's a nice guy, so I went ahead and visited.

**And the parking lot is acceptably large, unlike a lot of places on Union - there's more parking in the back. 

And was actually pretty impressed.

See, one of the things I hate about the gym, particularly at school, is that I don't like feeling like people are judging or really even looking at me while I work out. I know, realistically, that they probably aren't, but working out with 18 year olds on a regular basis is enough to give someone a complex.

At French Riviera, though, people were friendly, but clearly didn't care much what I was doing or how I looked doing it.

And no one looked 18.

Basically at Union they have a large room for classes:

*I haven't done any of the classes, mostly just due to my schedule, but they look fun when I walk by. 

And one very large room with cardio and strength training machines - this was right at closing, but it's rarely full, and there aren't any giant guys making weird noises or anything gross: 

*And yes, I asked to take these, I wasn't just being that weird person at the gym. 

All of the treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals have TVs and a little place to put your phone and a ledge for a book, magazine, or, in my case, my ipad with 50 Shades of Grey. I like mindless reading at the gym, but I'm too easily distracted to not focus on anything. 

It's hard having my brain. 

This gym is absolutely not intimidating. When you walk in (it's upstairs - it kind of looks like you're walking into Hollywood Feed until you get to the door) there's a reception desk: 

*Yeah, that's my ipad cover. It's pretty awesome. 

You don't even sign in - they've gone to little bar code swipey key things. 

*Yes I have too many keys. And a bottle opener. I'm from Arkansas is all I have to say on that one. 

*It's not even a glaringly unattractive key thingy. Also that hamsa is the one I got in Prague, and my next tattoo. 

I hate signing in to things, and I lose cards more than is probably socially acceptable, so a key thingy is the best for me. 

One of the things I was really looking for in a gym was convenience - I don't want to have excuses for not going, since I come up with those on my own easily enough. So I needed someplace affordable, with easy to get to locations, good hours, and friendly staff/customers who didn't make me not want to go. 

French Riviera (which, y'all, is not a spa - I don't have any idea why it's named that, I just accept it) met all of those requirements. 

So the Union location is open Monday through Friday from 5am to 9pm, Saturday from 8am to 7pm, and they're closed on Sunday, which works out well with my schedule, since I usually take Sunday off. 

The best part though is that with a membership, I can go to any of the gyms - including the one on Poplar and Highland, which is open 24 hours during the week and is open most of the day Sunday. So last week when I went to the Tigers game on Saturday, but did not go to the gym, I just went to Highland on Sunday. 

And it's really not expensive. 

I'm not a person who thinks the gym is an expense I necessarily need. I could go walk for free. But it's hot in Memphis, and having someplace that I go, and that I've paid to go to, and can spend an hour or so without any other obligations, is pretty nice. 

Right now they're having a special that's $25 a month (which is great, considering some gyms, that admittedly have saunas and stuff, which you don't really need) are $60 or more. When I joined, and I'm pretty sure this is still going on, if you pay for a year up front, you get 3 extra months free, all for $289. 

$19.26 a month. 

.64 a day. 

For .64 a day, I can afford it. And since I paid it all at once, I don't have to worry about it again until next November. 

And that's really nice. 

There's also free tanning at the Highland location with your membership. I don't tan, and you really shouldn't either, but if that's your thing, well, there you go. 

The gym is very clean (like, really - the woman who cleans at night is very nice and does a great job - and people definitely clean up after themselves), almost all the machines are new (and the Highland location has some swank treadmills), and the staff is really helpful. 

Here's Brian, being helpful: 

*You can follow him on twitter at @FitGuyMemphis, and he's on Facebook.

One of the other things you get with a membership is a fitness assessment. Which was depressing, but helpful - the only criticism I have of the gym, really the only one, is that they really push getting a personal trainer on you. Which is really helpful. And incredibly expensive. And I really felt pressured. I didn't do it, because 1. I can always ask for help with the machines, 2. I have the internet, which has rendered a lot of that "insider info" obsolete, and 3. My roommate majored in something like that in college, and he's free. 

So I didn't take the personal trainer, and I felt kind of bad about myself after the assessment, but it was helpful. And it's a nice thing that they add in to the membership, even if it is to sell trainer sessions. 

Overall I'm really happy with French Riviera. I do think they push the personal trainer thing too hard, but people have to work, so hopefully that can help some people. I don't respond well to that type of motivation, but some people might.

Not that personal trainers aren't at least entertaining:

Both locations I've been to are very clean, and, at the Union location particularly, the staff is very friendly, as are the other people who come to the gym (without being creepy). 

One of the complaints on Yelp has been that the membership is really binding - well, it's called a membership for a reason, y'all. 


So I highly recommend French Riviera. My hour at the gym has become one of my hours of the day, and, while I still hate sweating, I really like the results I'm getting from it. 

Not that I sweat or anything like that. 


  1. If I didn't already go to Planet Fitness, then I'd totally check this out!

    1. It's really nice! I had thought about Planet Fitness, but this one was so close, I couldn't pass it up. :)

  2. I was thinking about getting a treadmill post-baby but maybe I'll check this out instead. My campus gym membership is so cheap, but I also don't like running into students there, and I always get caught by the train.

    1. Yeah, I just find the campus gym both kind of intimidating and really inconvenient. I do wish French Riviera had childcare - they do at the Cordova location but that's it. That would make it more appealing to moms I think.